Lee Davy continues his Confessions series with a look at the way we were taught to write and questions its need in the world of poker writing.
“Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening with dinner end up in bed?”
That is a quote from Stephen King. It came from his excellent book On Writing and it’s a must read if you write for a living, or have any intention to do so.
Being articulate and speaking like you have swallowed an Oxford English Dictionary is not sexy. It’s just not going to get you laid. The geeks never get the girls. It’s always the guys who skipped English class to smoke cigarettes behind the bike shed.
I know it.
You know it.
Stephen fricking King knows it.
If you don’t suffer from a little bit of self-confidence then you are a liar. Here is another Stephen King quote from that same book.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start”
It’s so true.
Firstly, you don’t know how to start. The first few sentences are all important because if you don’t get them right you have lost your reader. So where does the inspiration come from? Come on fingers damn you…TYPE.
The other reason you are scared is because you are worried about what people will think about what you write. Everyone wants to be loved and when you are a writer, it’s your blood, sweat and guts that are splayed all over the article.
People will love you.
But most people will ignore you.
Some will even hate you.
You start telling stories.
I am not an expert about what I am writing. I am plagiarizing. I am not interesting enough. I don’t have a good grasp of the English language…blah…blah…blah…blah.
When PokerNews hired my good friend Remko Rinkema to write for them it pissed me off. He was Dutch and I was English. It doesn’t matter how good he gets at writing English he is never going to be as good as me. How can you hire someone who cannot write proper English?
That was the story I told myself and it worked for a while because it made me feel better for being put behind Remko in the pecking order. PokerNews were idiots and that was not my fault.
Oh how I love my stories.
The truth of the matter was Remko is much more than just a writer. He is one of the hardest working people in the business. He is well liked, and above all well respected.
But what really sets Remko apart from the rest is his love for the game. This man would report on live poker, 15-hours a day, seven days a week and wouldn’t even demand a salary.
Another quote from King that sums up Remko.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
His love and passion for the game finds it’s way into his posts. His control of the English grammar means diddlysquat.
Do you know why?
Because nobody cares.
What is the point of lacing an article with a swill of wonderful words if the reader doesn’t understand what any of them mean?
How does it make you feel when you read an article that’s full of words you don’t understand?
It makes me feel stupid.
It turns me off.
You aint getting me into bed.
So if you want to be a poker writer then dump your dictionary in the bin because there is no need for it. You are deaf to the sounds of the grammar police sirens. Nobody gives a shit about your grammar.
No fancy intellectual words, short snappy sentences, short paragraphs and plenty of emotion. Use simple English and draw your reader in. This is what the top blogger Jon Morrow calls Real World Writing.
Morrow has a degree in English Literature and can write like Shakespeare if he wanted to…but nobody wants to read Shakespeare. In fact, nobody wants to read at all.
Everyone is too lazy.
They want to scan your articles and find something of interest otherwise they will just bugger off and scan something else. So big chunky paragraphs are just not going to be read. Write as you speak. You have to be a little careful of your slang, otherwise it’s the same as using fancy words that nobody understands, but otherwise hold a conversation with your reader.
Would you rather write a beautifully written article, full of long and winding words that nobody reads, or an article that breaks most of the English classroom rules but is now being spread around Twitter like a copy of Playboy in a 12 year olds dorm room?
If you don’t believe me then read this.
“I cdnuolt blveiee that I cloud aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. Bsceuae of the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rschereachr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl meses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the hmaun mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? And I awlyas tghuhot splpeling was ipmorantt, and my gmmaarr had to be prefect or nnobody wulod hrie me in the pkeor idnsurty. Hloy siht, deos tish maen Rmeko is giong to get all my wrok!”